Rhodia, an international chemical company, has joined with the UK's Carbon Trust in a £4.5 million investment in solar energy start-up Eight19 to develop organic photovoltaic technology. The breakthrough organic photovoltaic technology will use semi-conducting organic polymers to provide solar power at a price substantially lower than that offered by first and second-generation technologies. The solar cells will be similar in appearance to photographic films and be flexible, lightweight and extremely easy to install, allowing to address new market segments such as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), intelligent fabrics, mobile electric equipment or self-powered electronic devices, even solar power on pure electric aircraft such as those of PC-Aero and ETH Zurich and pure electric boats such as those made by Carolina Electric Boats Inc.
The photovoltaic market is expected to expand rapidly, and according to Rhodia and its partners, organic photovoltaic technology should enable the deployment of low carbon electricity on a very large scale.
Eight19, so called as it takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds for light to travel from the sun to the earth, has been created in partnership with Professor Sir Richard Friend, Professor Henning Sirringhaus and Professor Neil Greenham of Cambridge's internationally renowned Cavendish Laboratory, and technology development company TTP.
Professor Sir Richard Friend commented, "This represents a great opportunity to transfer new technology out of the university, based on recent advances in fundamental science. Solar cells made with organic semiconductors work very differently to those made with silicon and are closer in operating principle to photosynthesis in green plants." Sir Richard Friend is a world expert who pioneered the study of the electronic properties of a class of plastics called conjugated polymers and revolutionised the understanding of using these materials to make plastic semiconductors. He also previously co-founded Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) and Plastic Logic.
Eight19 is developing organic photovoltaic devices, or printed solar cells, and is moving to a commercial phase to develop, manufacture and sell high performance, low-cost printed solar modules for high-growth volume markets. Rhodia, Carbon Trust, a private company set up by UK Government to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, and The Technology Partnership, a technology and product development company are the main investment partners.
Credit: Rhodia and Carbon Trust
Top Image source Carbon Trust
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